The Story of the Evil Weasel

Here’s a tale of greed, cunning, and the CARD Act.

June 14, 2011

Once upon a time, there was a land of discontented people. While rich with food, shelter, and SUVs in every garage, they wanted more.

One day, an evil weasel (who happened to live in South Dakota because it had no usury limit) had an idea after finding a small rectangular rock.

“I will call you Platinum,” he said to it (which, if you ask me is kind of strange to say to a rock, but then again, he lived in South Dakota). “You will let people buy things for which they have no money,” he smirked, “and for this privilege, they will make payments to me for all of eternity!”

For a while, everyone was satisfied. People enjoyed using Platinum to buy things they didn’t need, or to take trips they couldn’t afford.

One day, a wise man looked at his 18-page bill and said, “What the #$@*^ is this?”

Suddenly, people became discontented again. They complained about poor service, high rates, and mystery fees. But the evil weasel had anticipated this. “Every time they buy something they don’t need, I’ll give them points so they can buy even more stuff they don’t need!”

Again, people were happy. They forgot about the fees and the interest and the fact that they had to charge $25,000 worth of stuff to get a $300 plane ticket.

But after many months, the same old wise man looked at his statement again and said, “Why are my #$#$@ points expiring?”

Soon everyone was discontented again.

This time, the wise man went to the elders. “We need to stop this evil weasel,” he said.

“Why?” the elders asked.

“Because he’s increasing rates, charging made-up fees, and tricking the people into something called a teaser rate!”

A small voice spoke up from the back of the room. “Perhaps,” said a young man, “the problem isn’t the weasel, but the fact that people really shouldn’t buy things they can’t afford.” Immediately, the young man was pummeled by someone drinking a $7 latte bought on Platinum.

As time passed, the populace grew restless. Fearing that the next election might be their last, the elders agreed to change things.

They compiled ideas into a document called the “CARD Act,” which stipulated that fees couldn’t be hidden, rates couldn’t be changed, and statements had to be delivered in readable English.

The elders assigned a committee to put the law into what they called “rules.” Consultants modified the rules into “standards.” Finally, the people charged with overseeing evil weasels interpreted the rules as “regulations.”

Naturally, the document bore little resemblance to the original CARD Act.

Of course, the evil weasel was mad. But, being a weasel, he was also cunning. “You’ve ruined my business,” he said. “All is lost! Give me back my cards!”

“What?” said the people ner­vously. “We just wanted to end fees, rate changes, and legalese. We need our cards! We need stuff that we can’t afford!”

 “You can have them back if you want,” smirked the weasel. “But now the rate will change with the temperature of potato salad. I’ve reduced limits, cancelled rewards, and doubled fees.”

And cackling so evilly he was mistaken for Charlie Sheen, he said, “I’ll even charge you if you don’t use my card!”

The elders were perplexed. All their work had been thwarted by a cunning weasel. So they thought of an idea, and called it “CARD Act II.”

The weasel smirked again.

The moral: In an epic battle between an evil weasel and elected officials, bet on the weasel.

JAMES COLLINS is president/CEO at O Bee CU, Tumwater, Wash. Contact him at 360-943-0740.